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Play ball! It helps with your child's development

From a toddler to teen, playing ball helps a child in many ways


You are rushing your kids off to a practice, a game or an event during the school year. Even your vacation seems rushed. Why not enjoy the summer? One of our physical therapists gives some helpful tips on relieving stress and learning to relax. 

As we head into the warmer months with the kids on summer break, it is time to decide what your kids will be doing this summer. While there are many great options for your kids including camps, swim lessons, and trips to the zoo, some of their time should be spent playing sports and games with a ball.

Ball sports and games have many benefits for kids besides being a lot of fun. Playing ball helps kids develop skills:

Increased coordination with both hands


o Stand in one place and dribble a basketball.

o Run while dribbling a ball.

o Playing/bumping a volleyball.

Increased hand eye coordination


o Playing catch.

o Batting practice.

o Playing mini golf.

o Playing a racquet sport like tennis or ping pong.

Improved balance


o Kicking a ball while standing in place.

o Kicking a ball while running.

o Jumping and reaching to catch a throw.

There are great ball options for kids of all ages and abilities. 

For kids 3 and under

Once babies can sit on their own, they can begin to roll a medium sized ball. As they grow, they will begin to use two hands to attempt to catch by pulling a ball closet to their body. Kicking is something that we should start to see with toddlers. At first your little one will walk into a ball to move it forward. As your child matures they will begin to lift one leg to kick. This requires balance and is a good challenge for toddlers and preschoolers. As their balance improves they will be able to the kick the ball harder and farther and in a straight line.

For grade school kids

At this age, kids are ready to be challenged with balls of different shapes and sizes like soccer balls, footballs, baseballs and tennis balls. These balls can be thrown and caught, but also can be used in more complex ways as part of a game. A great way to get this age group active is to create a game that they can play with friends.

For the preteen and teenagers

If your child is not yet involved in a team sport, it is important to continue to encourage them to be active with their friends, including games that include ball skills.

Sports are beneficial whether played on formal teams or as part of pick-up game with friends. Sports not only challenge your child physically, but encourage them to work on things like taking turns and being a good sport. Activities like soccer, baseball, and basketball require children to coordinate their own movements with the movements of other children in order to be successful. Teamwork and compromise are great skills for all kids to work on and will benefit them in many areas of their life.

So whether it is on their own, with siblings and friends, or as part of a team, encourage your kids to be active this summer and get involved with ball games. Remember that all kids should be getting at least one hour of physical activity a day and they will need lots of water when playing outside in the Texas summers. 

About the author

Kate Mcgee, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist at Cook Children's. Physical therapy at Cook Children's focuses on large motor and functional skils to enhance development, restore function and prevent disability from pediatric conditions, illness or injury. Cook Children's has Rehabilition Services in locations in Fort Worth, Hurst and most recently in Mansfield.

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